BT Broadcast Services has opened its new£5m International Media Centre (IMC) for business, promising a range of improved and more efficient services for channel operators, writes Kevin Hilton.
Housed at Telecom Tower, the IMC aims to provide a "shop window" for its switching and routing services, allowing television channels, digital contribution circuits and satellite uplinks to be redirected and monitored.
Central to the operation is the Central Control Area (CCA) which comprises not just routing and switching services but also a small television studio and control booth, meeting rooms and a reception area.
Philip Ballabon, head of BT Broadcast Services' projects department, acknowledged that the more commercial and image-conscious attitudes of modern business have brought what was once a hidden activity out into the open.
Initial plans for the IMC were drawn up in January last year. A floor of the tower that had been previously used as a dumping ground had to be cleared before building work began last April. Systems integrator Megahertz Broadcast Systems came on site during November and operational trials began in February this year.
Ballabon and Stephen Burgess, technical director of Megahertz, which had worked on the control room the CCA replaces, designed the installation. The CCA comprises rows of desks arranged in arcs, which radiate out from a central video wall made up of eight Synelec cubes. Engineers monitor and check incoming and outgoing signals and provide assistance for broadcast clients. Monitoring is on 40 Zander Dx4 quad SDI multiviewers, with signals switched through a 128 x 128 CCC Networks Freevision matrix. The area also features the biggest Riedel digital intercom system so far installed in the UK.
Allyn Dory of the Gensler firm of international architects designed the IMC and while the CCA and studio are now fully operational, the reception area is not due to be completed until later in the year.